I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
February 26, 2018 - 12:56 p.m.
I have things on my agenda today. The first is writing Wise Madness; I love My Gentle Readers. I even did research to make this edition better.
Yesterday I went to the George Harrison 75th Birthday Tribute at City Winery. There were two shows, 2PM and 7 PM, I went to both; the Kennedys asked me to merch. The merch was set up oddly, in the basement. I did the merch for the Kennedys and someone from CW did it for everyone else. She introduced myself. I remembered her name the second time she told me. The rest of the evening I had it down between two names and I remembered the right one because she's a fine girl. Guess her name. Right! It's Brandi. My Gentle Readers are so smart. So is Brandi she renders jewelry designs on a computer. She also designs her own. We had a lot of fun talking on the boundary of geekdom and art.
The show did not have programs printed or given online so I'm going to have to rely on my memory here. I did check the Facebook event to see who was playing but it was only a partial list; Willie Nile, Lucy Kaplansky, Mary Fahl (former lead singer of the October Project), The Kennedys, Victory Boyd and, founding members of The Fab Faux, Rich Pagano and Jack Petruzzelli. Hosted by Joe Raiola. Who do you think I was most excited about? It was Mary Fahl. I have been a fan of hers for over 20 years but have never seen her perform. She is one of the special singers, I'm listening to her as I write this. I just turned it off. I should be listening to George Harrison, All Things Must Pass. I have a confession to make. I am not that familiar with George's solo work. I never owned a copy of any of his solo albums. I did have Concert for Bangladesh and the Traveling Wilburys albums. I'm able to listen now because of Amazon Music. That meant the songs were divided into songs that were hits, that I knew very well, and songs I was unfamiliar with.
The first artist up was Jenni Muldaur; I told you that list was incomplete. I had seen her once. I know it was at the old Cutting Room. She opened for whoever I was there to see; it might have been the Kennedys. I saw them there often. I cannot think of what songs she did. That's going to be true of almost everyone. I'm not going to review most of the performances. They were all good and there was an exceptionally good match between artist and song. I'm guessing that's Joe's doing, as the show is his baby, as is the annual John Lennon tribute.
The Kennedys were up next. They did four songs, I think that's more than anyone, and the helped out with many of the others. They are the perfect band for tribute shows; they know the music and they are versatile performers. They posed a trivia question, what is the only Beatles song attribute to Lennon/Harrison? I'm sure that Darren and John got it right away, anyone else? It's Cry for a Shadow, an instrumental that they performed. The other song I remember they did was the one that anyone familiar with the Kennedys' skill set would guess, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Lucy Kaplansky joined Pete and Maura on one of their songs and they returned the favor on one of hers. Lucy had trouble with her guitar. Maura offered hers. Lucy was wearing a black leather jacket and I love the way Maura made the offer; "Red guitar and black leather, my favorite color scheme." The song I remember that she did was Something. Frank Sinatra said, "The greatest love song written in the last 50 years and one of my favorite Lennon/McCartney songs." Poor George never got the credit he deserved.
The first set closed with Joe discussing the Beatles trip to India and the influence of Indian culture on them. He then introduced Zeshan Bagewadi. I could not pick up the name as he said it. I found it now using clues from last night, he was on Colbert, is Indian, and lives in Chicago. That was enough. He did My Sweet Lord. He was a revelation, and that one of the highlights of the show.
In the second half the guys from the Fab Faux played and then Willie Nile. There was no first time I saw Willie. I've seen him many times but as a search my memory I realize that I always knew him from before then. It must have been at one of those revues at the Bottom Line and he just won me over right away. One memory that might be from the first time was him dancing off the stage and on to my table. I had to hastily get my glass out of the way to clear space. As you can guess from that, Willie is dynamic. Think of a leprechaun on speed and without green skin. There was a time I saw him often. He's gotten bigger and therefore more expensive to see, so it's rarer now. It has nothing to do with loving him less. He was the only one to do a Traveling Wilburys song, Wilbury Twist. That was an inspired choice; it requires the high energy level. Pete and Maura joined him. Maura danced around like a Dervish. People forget that George was not just spiritual and sensitive, he was also a rocker. Willie also did perhaps George's biggest hit, Here Comes the Sun.
Mary Fahl; was also a revelation. I knew and loved her from recordings. That did not prepare me for how great she was live. Her voice is like young Marianne Faithful or the lower registers of Annie Haslam. The quality of her voice and singing, but not the vocal range remind me of Sandy Denny. Throw in some Madeleine Peyroux. But it's all Mary. I could cast her as Luthien, from the Silmarillion; a singer with the power to move Mandos, essentially the god of the dead. One song I remember she did was the dark and disturbing Beware the Darkness. When Here Comes the Sun was used as Trump's walking music at the Republican convention, the Harrison family was not happy. They contacted the RNC and said that they did not approve but they might have given their permission if the song were Beware of Darkness. Mary performed that on guitar with a synthesizer backing her up. She finished with All Things Must Pass backed by a full band including the Kennedys. The sound was like the October Project. If you made me pick one highlight of the show, that was it.
The finale was not a George Harrison song, but a song he loved by a performer he idolized, Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven. The entire ensemble performed it but who do you think sang lead? Right, Willie Nile. The songs and performers were a perfect match. My first reaction was, "What's with Chuck Berry?" But it worked. It was cathartic.
This was a long show. I thought I'd have to kill a lot of time between shows, but it was less than an hour from when they got the last person out the door till doors opened for the second show. I thought I'd go someplace inexpensive for dinner but there was not a lot of time and the City Winery food is good, so I ate at the second show. I had a bacon burger and fries. They were excellent as was the waitress.
I had better seats for that one, right by the sound booth. I had to look between two pillars but that was fine. I might have been close enough that the pictures and videos might have come out. I have a backlog of those I have to get through, so it might be a while.
I didn't know anyone the first show, I knew a ton of people at the second. Let's see how many I can name and who I will offend by forgetting, Dan & Phyllis, Glamorous Gail, Glenn, Tom, Shelley, David, Jeannie, and Deni's friend Marty, who I had just met the night before. I bet I'm missing people. I know all of them, except for Jeannie, from WFUV. Jeannie is Maura's friend of Syracuse. That happens to be where Mary Fahl recorded one of her albums and Jeannie and Maura know the producer. I love when it's a small world.
There was one big disappointment. I have loved Mary since the first time I heard October project. I didn't even really know what she looked like, the voice was enough. Then I saw her live and decided that I was going to marry her. I asked Maura to be my wingman and talk me up to her between shows. "Remember to talk about the cute merch guy." I didn't get to talk to her except as she was leaving; I told her she was marvelous, and she said thank you. I tried to interpret that as, "I'm madly in love with you," and might have succeeded, but for one problem. There is always a but. A short time later the gentleman who was walking with Mary heard me telling Jeannie that unfortunately Mary left with her CDs. He came up to me and introduced himself, "I'm Mary's husband." Even worse I liked him. He's nice and fun and someone I could be friends with. By my code of honor, I can't marry Mary. I am noble.
I don't do tribute shows but I went to two in the last four nights; I saw Rachael Price and friends do Lucinda's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road album. I have to modify that to I only do tribute shows by incredibly talented performers for an incredibly talented songwriter.
Wow, it's late and I have things to do. I'm going to skip my adventure getting home. We're out of eggs and I can't eat till I buy some and I don't want to starve to death.
The setlist has been posted. I somehow put Lucy in the wrong set.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Video Didn't Kill the Blogging Star - May 18, 2018
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